The Verge, May 23, 2014: Radioactive kitty litter may have ruined our best hope to store nuclear waste; Billions invested in an underground New Mexico repository could be wasted [...] The most dangerous nuclear waste in the US is currently scattered between 77 locations all over the country, awaiting permanent storage. Until February, many experts suggested that the best place to put it was [WIPP...] two emergencies brought that suggestion – and WIPP’s future – into question. [...] The damage and the resulting radiation leak could close the facility, experts say. [...] the real lesson here may lie in the fragility of even the best nuclear storage facility. Corrective action at WIPP could be a massive undertaking. How many other barrels contain the dangerous organic cat litter? Are all of those barrels underground at WIPP? [...] if the DOE decides stabilizing or repackaging the material is unjustified, that would close WIPP for good.
Per Peterson, UC Berkeley Department of Nuclear Engineering: “Expert assessment will be needed [to] determine whether the safety benefits of stabilizing or repackaging the material in these drums are justified by the risk to personnel who would attempt to do this work.”
Norbert T. Rempe, PhD, former WIPP principal engineer for decades: “If [WIPP permanently closed], it would be a shame and a disaster [...] we have no idea how long this will take until WIPP is back to normal operations, or what the new normal operations will be [...] No one knows right now. And it could be a long time before anyone knows.”
Jim Conca, writer at Forbes, geologist who worked for years at WIPP: “It could shut down the most successful nuclear repository in history.”
NPR, May 23, 2014: Organic litter is [...] is full of chemical compounds that can react with the nuclear waste. “They actually are just fuel, and so they’re the wrong thing to add,” [Conca] says.
Ryan Flynn, New Mexico’s secretary of the environment: It is clear that the wrong material went into some of the drums. [...] “Ultimately [the waste is] the responsibility of the Department of Energy. It’s also now their responsibility to clean it up and fix it.”
Carlsbad Current Argus, May 23, 2014: More than 350 barrels of waste containing the suspect chemical mixture are currently stored at WIPP
Published: May 23rd, 2014 at 8:27 pm ET